In-car navigation systems that literally tell drivers where to go are much more convenient and safer than resting a street directory on one’s lap
and quickly trying to devise a route on a map at a set of traffic lights. But audio instructions may not always be the best way to impart directional information to hard of hearing drivers or those yakking on a mobile phone – with a hands-free kit I should hope. A new study suggests that devices mounted to a steering wheel that pull the driver’s index fingertips left or right could help motorists drive more safely. The same technology could also be attached to a cane to provide directional cues to blind pedestrians.
The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Utah, was based on a “multiple resource model” of how people process information, in which resources are senses such as vision, hearing and touch that provide information to the brain.
“You can only process so much,” says the study’s lead author, William Provancher, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Utah. “The theory is that if you provide information through different channels, you can provide more total information. Our sense of touch is currently an unexplored means of communication in the car.”
The study was conducted on a driving simulator with two devices attached to the steering wheel so that one came in contact with the index finger on each of the driver’s hands. During driving, each index fingertip rested on a red TrackPoint cap from an IBM ThinkPad computer that gently tugged the skin of the fingertips in the appropriate direction when approaching a turn.
The Latest Streaming News: Touch-based directional devices updated minute-by-minute